Editor's Comment

Students’ damage of property unjustifiable

THE tendency by University of Zambia (UNZA) and Copperbelt University (CBU) students of damaging public property every time they are aggrieved is retrogressive and must be condemned in the strongest terms.
Two days ago, the CBU students threw fits of rage, damaging property at their institution.
The students damaged desks, chairs and other properties. The scene at the institution could be mistaken for a war zone, if not an area hit by a cyclone.
The institution was littered with broken chairs and other pieces of furniture.
The fact that students are not happy about something does not give them the right to damage property bought using taxpayers’ money.
What students did was shooting themselves in the foot.
In the case of university furniture and other properties broken at CBU, it is the students themselves who are going to feel the pinch.
This is because when the situation normalises and classes resume they will have no chairs and desks to use.
They are the ones that will be inconvenienced by lack of furniture and other necessities that make learning a more comfortable experience.
The violent behaviour by some students only goes to show that some families are not doing a good job to raise responsible citizens.
These students come from homes where there are parents and guardians who should impart morals in them.
While we know that some students act out of peer pressure, those who incite others depict bad upbringing.
For instance, children in a home cannot be allowed to break property because they have a grievance and hope to get away with it.
If such a thing happened, whether the grievance is genuine or not, parents have every right to discipline the child.
This is why President Edgar Lungu is incensed, and justifiably so, by the immature behaviour of some students from the two higher learning institutions.
Speaking after touring rehabilitated hostels at Zambia Institute of Business Studies and Industrial Practice (ZIBSIP) yesterday, Mr Lungu said Government will not allow students to always resort to damaging property every time they are not happy about something.
The Head of State said Government will be forced to close the two institutions to stop unruly behaviour by students.
“Don’t worry about students who are damaging public property because we will deal with them. And if it means closing the institution, will we do that. We have to be firm to address this issue,” President Lungu said.
If students cannot be stopped from causing further damage to public property, then closing the institutions becomes an inevitable option.
No one in their right frame of mind can support what the students have done.
Moreover, the reasons for protesting are that some students were not allowed to sit examinations because they did not meet the continuous assessment mark.
The universities have rules which govern the learning process, including assessments and examinations.
Certainly students must fulfil their obligations according to laid-down rules. Resorting to violence will not resolve the grievances they have.
If anything, it just annoys the very people who are supposed to provide solutions.
In this case the students only managed to fall out of the President’s favour.
The head of State was scheduled to meet union leaders when he saw the damage trail at CBU. This caused him to change his mind about meeting the students’ body.
The students’ irrational behaviour deprived them an opportunity to meet the President and air their grievances.
Students must not resort to violence but follow laid-down procedures. There is a more civilised way to approach grievances.
It should be noted too that it is not all students who misbehave. There are many who only wish to get their studies done with and move on in life.
It is likely that the rabble-rousers are the poor performers in class and want to cause closures to buy time for their unpreparedness for tests or exams.
Authorities should, therefore, consider the option of removing these bad eggs, no matter how many they are, and keep the institution open for those that appreciate education.
It is hoped that the students have learnt their lessons and we will not witness a repeat of such behaviour in the future.
While it is known that students are problematic, we also urge Government and the managements at the institutions to be more proactive and engage the students to prevent the situation from getting out of hand.
It is known that most challenges the universities grapple with are related to lack of funding. The universities should work out modalities of supplementing Government’s efforts by embarking on business ventures.
The corporate world, which draws human resource from these universities, should also come on board to help fund particular projects.
Above all, stakeholders must work together to find lasting solutions for our two learning institutions.

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